Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Guanaco Capelet (minus the Guanaco)


Guanaco Capelet by Helen Hamann

  • Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb 100% extrafine lambswool (825 yards / 60 g per ball), ~0.62 balls, color "Oyster" #601

  • US 5 (3.75 mm) Knitpicks Options Circular Needles

I usually knit quite loosely (in comparison with project gauge/needle combinations), however, I'm noticing a different trend with lace weight yarn and lace shawls - namely, I seem to knit lace more tightly than expected.

The Guanaco Capelet pattern suggests a US 9 (5.5 mm) needle, but I chose a US 5 (without swatching), because I usually have to go down to a US 4 to get something resembling the proper gauge when a pattern (for worsted weight yarn) suggests US 8's. Evidently this personal "rule of thumb" is not transferrable to knitting with very fine yarns. I know I should be swatching, but I generally figure that size isn't that crucial for a shawl or scarf.

Before blocking, my Guanaco Capelet looked tiny.

Exhibit A:


Exhibit B:


Note that it appears to be about the right size for my 8.5 lb. cat to wear (it was about 27 inches wide and only 10 inches deep at the center back).

It would not be an exaggeration to say that I was terrified (e.g. that I had just put a lot of effort into making a hanky too holey to blow your nose on - or a very fancy cat afghan that would be shredded by eager claws in short order).


Very luckily, blocking made it big enough (about 42 inches wide by 17 inches deep at the center back - I forgot to put the measuring tape in the post-blocking photo, but you get the idea) for me (and my 14 lb. cat) to wear comfortably.

Here are some shots of Bug looking deceptively docile, as usual:


At this size, the capelet is only long enough to cover my upper arms (it hits approximately mid-bicep at the sides and is several inches longer in front), however, it looks very nice worn as a scarf, so I'll probably mostly wear it that way. Worn as a capelet, I think elbow length (which I think the original was) would be optimal.

I first saw the pattern in the Windy Valley Muskox booth at Rhinebeck two years ago. They had one knit up, and I thought it was lovely, but, apparently, so did everyone else, because they had run out of copies of the pattern. After a bit of research I learned that I could purchase it from the Windy Valley Muskox website, however, I thought they were charging a bit much for shipping, so I decided to wait and see if I could find it in person later. Happily, Windy Valley Muskox was a vendor at Stitches West this year, and this time, they had the pattern in stock :)

The only real complaint I have about the pattern is that it uses quite a bit more paper than I think it needs to (9 pages, single sided, with a much larger than necessary font size). Other than that, this was my first time working an edging like this, so I found that I wasn't always sure I'd picked up stitches in the right spots, etc., but I don't think that was a failing of the pattern.

Two lovely stitch patterns make up the body of the shawl:


...and then there's the edging:


I think the combination is really beautiful.


Partly because I knit it on the small side, and partly due to the light and springy nature of the Lacey Lamb yarn...


...my capelet seems to weigh little more than a breath of air. The original was knit in Windy Valley Muskox's gorgeous - but much too expensive for my budget - guanaco/merino/silk blend yarn in "natural," a silvery, heathery fawn tone. I think the Lacey Lamb makes a nice substitute.